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Thomas Ward Custer

U.S. Army
Medal Of Honor, Civil War

Second Medal of Honor, Civil War

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FIRST AWARD
In action at the Namozine Church in Willicomack, Virginia on April 3, 1865, Lieutenant Thomas Ward Custer of the 6th Mission Cavalry was cited for capturing the Confederate Flag.
SECOND AWARD
Sixty Medals of Honor were awarded for actions at Deatonsville (Sailor's Creek), Virginia, during the period March 29 to April 6, 1865. Fifty-seven awards were for actions on April 6 alone, forty-seven of them for the capture of flags of the Confederate Army. After capturing a Confederate flag 3 days earlier at Willicomac, Virginia, Lieutenant Thomas Custer was eager to repeat his feat. As a member of General Capehart's 3d Brigade, 3d Division in the attack at Sailor's Creek near Deatonsville, Thomas Custer crossed the line of temporary works on the flank of the road, where his unit was confronted by a supporting battle-line. In the second line he wrested the colors from an enemy color bearer. Advancing on another standard he received a shot in the face which knocked him back on his horse. Despite his wounds, he continued his assault on the color bearer who began to fall from wounds he had also received. As he fell, the wounded Lieutenant Custer reached out to grasp this second standard of colors, bearing both off in triumph. "For intrepidity I never saw this incident surpassed." later wrote General Capehart. "It was a great wonder he escaped with his life. Tom, on that day, fought like a lion."


Lt. Thomas Custer, the younger brother of General George A. Custer, was the ONLY man to receive TWO Medals of Honor in the Civil War (making him the first of 19 double recipients of the Medal of Honor). In both actions he was cited for capturing enemy flags, an ironic twist since his older brother George was the first Union soldier to capture an enemy flag in that war (in 1862 as aide-de-camp to General McClellan). After the war Tom served under his brother in the West, and died with him at the Battle of the Little Big Horn.

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